TRAUMA STRESS SEVERITY AND ROAD TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS: A PROSPECTIVE PILOT STUDY INTO 11 CAUSAL FACTORS
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Factors associated with the development of post traumatic stress symptomatology have frequently been reported in the literature over the last decade. However, of the empirical studies examining these factors, few have used appropriate methodological designs and most have examined one factor in isolation. This pilot study used a cross-lagged panel analysis design to investigate 11 factors previously identified in the literature as being causally related to the development of post traumatic stress symptomatology. The 11 factors investigated were: perceived controllability, perceived predictability, perceived threat, shattering and confirmation of core assumptions, causal attributions, supportive and unsupportive behaviour, peritraumatic dissociation and the personality factors of neuroticism and introversion. 13 participants were recruited through Cheltenham General Hospital's accident and emergency department after being involved in a road traffic accident (RTA). They were interviewed on three occasions; ten days post RTA, ten weeks post RTA and six months post RTA and were required to complete four questionnaires. It was found that participants who had high levels of post traumatic stress symptomatology at ten days received low levels of supportive behaviour at six months. Participants who perceived the accident to be unpredictable at ten days had low levels of symptomatology at six months. Two other factors were also found to be causally related to the development of post traumatic stress symptomatology; confirmation and neuroticism, but these factors must be treated with caution due to the possibility of an unspecified third variable. The remaining seven factors were not found to be causally related to the development of symptomatology. Overall these findings support the interactive field theories which propose that post traumatic stress symptomatology develops through a complex interaction of numerous factors from the emotional, social and cognitive domains and cannot be related to specific linear factors.
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